The president took the time retweet a tweet that began with: “President Trump is a ratings hit.” Four hours later, he took the podium for the now-daily White House COVID-19 briefings to address a terrified nation.
Last week, on March 29, President Trump began to retweet a series of tweets. The subject of these tweets was not the COVID-19 epidemic, nor the administration’s plans to flatten the curve—not even a message of hope. Instead, the president took the time retweet a tweet that began with: “President Trump is a ratings hit.” Four hours later, he took the podium for the now-daily White House COVID-19 briefings to address a terrified nation.
Some 24 hours following that briefing, there were 137,047 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, with 2,400 deaths. As of press time, there are currently 206,233 confirmed cases of Americans contracting the novel coronavirus, with 4,576 deaths, according to The New York Times. As Trump was boasting about his television ratings, being greater than the season finale of “The Bachelor,” the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Anthony Fauci revealed the U.S. could suffer at least 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from COVID-19.
It was also during this time that the president asserted that such a staggering death toll would be considered a “very good job.”
“You’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this,” Trump said, “And so, if we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000—that’s a horrible number—maybe even less…we altogether have done a very good job.”
President Trump’s daily briefings, while being a “ratings hit,” have frequently contradicted previous statements he has made. On Feb. 26, Trump said “The 15 (cases in the United States) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” On Feb. 27, he assured the American people, “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” On Feb. 28, he called the coming pandemic a hoax.
With the possibility of so many casualties, President Trump’s previous statements are worrisome. It forces you to question any hopeful statement the president makes during his daily briefings.
When questioned by reporters during such press conferences, President Trump has often taken the offensive. On March 29, he took issue with a line of questioning from “PBS NewsHour” White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor. Alcindor questioned the president about a statement he previously made to Fox News’ Sean Hannity, in which Trump said, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators, but city and state officials say they require far more than the administration is providing.” Trump denied he made such a statement before going on the offensive against Alcindor.
“Why don’t you act a little more positive?” Trump asked her. “It’s always get ya, get ya, get ya. You know what? That’s why nobody trusts the media anymore.”
I was a child when 9/11 happened. I can so easily recall the feeling of reassurance then-President George W. Bush gave the nation. His approval rating skyrocketed in the wake of the attacks because of his leadership through such hard times. However, we never heard about television ratings from President Bush. We did not watch President Bush lament the media and attack journalists.
In 2001, when the nation needed it most, we had a leader as president. Now, we have a reality star as president, and it is the worst episode of “The Apprentice” I have ever seen.